James get Newcastle’s This is Tomorrow festival off to storming start, with Sam Fender, Gerry Cinnamon and Dermot Kennedy to follow

Today’s the day, after a coronavirus lockdown-enforced year off, for Newcastle’s This is Tomorrow festival and so is tomorrow and the day after.

Friday, 17th September 2021, 1:35 am
Updated Sunday, 19th September 2021, 1:27 pm
James frontman Tim Booth at Newcastle's This is Tomorrow festival (Photo: Bennett Media)

The festival, at the city’s Exhibition Park, kicks off in earnest today, September 17, with a bill topped by Irish singer-songwriter Dermot Kennedy and also featuring Greater Manchester indie pop act Blossoms and Mancunian rapper Bugzy Malone, as well as the likes of Mahalia, Holly Humberstone and the Lathums.

They’re followed tomorrow, September 18, by a line-up headlined by Glaswegian singer-songwriter Gerry Cinnamon.

Also on the bill, among others, are indie pop acts the Kooks and Circa Waves, from Brighton and Liverpool respectively, and Newcastle indie rockers the Pale White.

Rounding things off on Sunday is North Tyneside singer-songwriter Sam Fender, backed up by acts including Filipino singer-songwriter Beatrice Laus, alias Beabadoobee, and Irish post-punk band Fontaines DC.

Before all that, though, was a benefit concert in aid of National Health Service workers yesterday, September 16, also acting as a warm-up for the main event.

Titled This is for the NHS, it was aimed at an older demographic than the three days to come, having veteran Mancunian indie rockers James as headliners, back in Newcastle for the first time since a show at the city hall in March 2019, with Liverpool indie pop act Lightning Seeds second on the bill, supported by Jango Flash, Cruel Hearts Club, Beth Macari and the National Anthems.

James, founded in Manchester back in 1982 and together from then until 2001 and since 2007, reined in their adventurous tendencies a bit, presumably mindful that medics looking to enjoy a free night out wouldn’t necessarily be familiar with, say, B-sides from non-charting singles in the early 1980s or other such obscurities and stuck largely to golden oldies and greatest hits.

Sit Down, their biggest hit to date, having reached No 2 in 1991 and No 7 seven years later, got the warmest welcome of the night unsurprisingly, but Born of Frustration, Ring the Bells, Say Something and Getting Away With It (All Mixed Up) were given almost as enthusiastic a reception, as were three other crowd-pleasers delivered over two quickfire encores – Sometimes, Sound and Come Home – much to the obvious delight of frontman Tim Booth and his eight bandmates.

Only three songs from their latest album, this summer’s All the Colours of You, were given an airing – set-opener Isabella, its title track and Wherever It Takes Us – with the rest of their splendid 15-song set, but for 2014’s Moving On, predating their 2001 split.

A James show wouldn’t be complete without at least one curveball, though, that, this time round, being Honest Joe, from 1994’s Wah Wah album, a collection of 23 songs, most of them incomplete or improvised.

For further details of the festival, taking its name from a 1977 Bryan Ferry single, go to https://thisistomorrow.co.uk

Weekend and Saturday tickets are sold out but Friday and Sunday tickets are available for £53.90.